Sunday, 27 November 2011

Test Cases vs Test Ideas - Looking for assistance

Michael Bolton ( commented on my blog about moving towards the concept of Test Ideas. There is still much that I need to learn about using Ideas versus Cases.  I feel though, that this maybe how originally I had the team create the maps before moving to the Given, When, Then format. I wanted to testers to think freely about scenarios, instead of having a dedicated way to complete a “test case”. We simply did not have expected results on our maps at all. Was what we were doing Test Ideas?

Our applications and the system that we test allow for multiple ways to complete a certain task, therefore it is more of an “idea”. As I continue to do research and to grow I feel there will be more clarification in my mind of the true difference between “test cases” and “test ideas”. I’m on a journey here of learning and growing, which excites me.

Please comment and share thoughts about this. Do you have a good blogs, books or articles that I should read? How do you define a test idea? Do you use ideas?

Update: Blog link from Darren: 


  1. I probably should be more concerned with using the right terminology than I am, but on our team, we've started to just call it "testing". At the theme level, we usually mind map the different areas we want to test. At the user story level, we might mind map test areas/items, or we might just put bullet points on the wiki page describing the different cases and scenarios we want to test.

    A lot of our exploration and test idea generation comes when we're turning examples into executable tests (which we do with FitNesse). We start with the simplest case we can think of, but even that may raise questions that hadn't come up before. I think people misunderstand ATDD/SBE/BDD as only a way to automate checks, when in fact the biggest value is in bringing team members and customers together to create a shared understanding of what each piece of functionality or feature should do.

  2. Robert Sabourin ( does a fantastic job teaching the use of Test Ideas in his Just In Time testing course. I highly recommend it.

    (Note, I am one of very few authorized instructors for the course, but even if you asked for me, I'd refer you to Rob - I only teach the course when he is over-booked & he asks, so I don't feel I'm being self-serving by recommending his course -- I recommend it for the same reason I learned to teach it, because I believe it's good!)

  3. I like the term test ideas, but I use variations as well. Today I watched a short video by Elisabeth Hendrickson and Dale Emery on variables. Any term that works for you and doesn't constrain you to any given style is probably ok. I don't think there is any one term these days, but I find that the term 'test case' makes people think of scripted tests.